Nicodemus, Kansas, was a special place, and all the townspeople knew it. Built on Black excellence, ingenuity, and grit, the town was resilient. After all the town had survived, surely no dust storm could run them away, right?
During Reconstruction, many Black families sought to escape the cruelties of racists intending to keep them enslaved. The prospect of an all-Black pioneer town seemed perfect, so many took all they had and headed west to Kansas. But they found much more.
They found freedom. Townspeople built homes, had access to affordable and easy transportation, managed farms, and grew wealthy as shop owners. They successfully fought off attempts by violent white terrorists to squelch new settlers. But before too long, the tide turned.
The Great Depression brought economic devastation to Nicodemus as it did to most of the country, and the town fought to recover. Now, as the Dust Bowl threatened them like bedeviled dervishes, they wondered: would they survive this too?
Most residents left Nicodemus after the Dust Bowl, and the incredible community is now a historic National Park. Its legacy, however, shows one truth we must never forget: when we work together, even in the face of racism and natural disasters, WE THRIVE.